Just bought your first home? Congratulations! A new home is an exciting milestone; it’s likely the biggest purchase you will ever make. As you get settled, you may find yourself with questions about your finances. How will I pay my mortgage while saving for other goals? Can I handle the expense of home repairs?
We’re here to help. Here are a 6 strategies to help you navigate the first year of owning your home.
1. Revisit your budget
Making and following a budget is an important financial habit. Even if you’re used to budgeting, you’ll have different things to consider as a new homeowner. Not only will you need to plan for regular mortgage payments, but you’ll need to be ready for other ongoing costs, as well.
Make room in your budget for things like:
- Property taxes
- Condo fees
- Phone, cable, and internet
- Emergency fund for urgent repairs (leaks, flooding, new roof, etc.)
Not sure where to start? Use our budget calculator.
2. Prioritize home projects
When you first buy a home, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the ‘to do’ list. Thankfully, not everything needs to be done at once. Your home inspection report — likely part of your home purchase — is a valuable starting point for thinking about ‘must do’ projects, versus those that can wait.
As you prioritize projects, identify emergency repairs first. Some issues can lead to major costs if they’re not managed right away (foundation issues, roof repairs, leaky pipes, etc.). Next, figure out which expenses are urgent. For example, do you need to replace the air conditioner before summer arrives? Prioritizing home repairs and projects will help you avoid emergencies and spread out your costs in your first year of home ownership.
3. Plan for things that make you feel at home
As you settle into your new home, you’ll want room in your budget for less critical expenses too. This includes things that will make you feel at home in your new place — new furniture, lighting, decorations, linens, and other creature comforts.
Even with these items, there’s plenty of room to prioritize. Are there things you can put off for a few months, until you get on your feet? Look for low-cost ways to make your new place feel like your own. A fresh coat of paint and basic lighting can create a bright, comfortable, ‘at-home’ feeling. For bigger expenses, like new furniture or a backyard renovation, set up a savings plan to keep yourself on track.
4. Be ready for maintenance
When it comes to owning a home, maintenance is a must. Many structural features and appliances need regular care over time. Maintenance can help to delay or avoid significant costs down the road. To keep yourself organized, set up a schedule that fits your home.
Common maintenance tasks include:
- Furnace and air conditioner servicing
- Hot water tank servicing
- Fireplace cleaning
- Air duct servicing
- Carpet cleaning
- Checking smoke detectors
- Seasonal maintenance (lawn care, fireplace cleaning, etc.)
5. Review your insurance
When you buy a home, your insurance needs change. Not only do you need coverage for the value of your belongings — much like you may have had as a tenant — but you also need to protect your home, in the event of damage.
While you make sure your home insurance is up to date, it’s a good idea to revisit other policies, too. You may want to purchase life insurance, for example, or add disability insurance to your policy, if you need to take a short-term break from mortgage payments.
6. Examine your other goals
Buying a home has probably been your top financial goal for a while. With new ongoing costs, maintenance fees, and one-time projects, how do you make room for other priorities? Whether you plan to save for a child’s education, a dream vacation, or retirement, it’s important to keep other goals top of mind and within your reach.
In other words, your mortgage and home expenses are just one part of a larger financial picture. Talking through your financial goals with an advisor will help you refocus, prioritize, and plan for what’s next.
We can help
If you’re settling into your first home, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. We’re here to help with anything you need.